Brian Evans, former Wyevale Chief Executive, has died

Brian Evans died in his sleep on 12th October at the age of 78.  He had been unwell for a couple of years.

As chief executive and then chairman of Wyevale he built the family business into a national chain of 114 garden centres with a turnover of £192m.  By the time he retired in 2004 after 31 years running the business it dominated garden centre retailing.

Brian was a mining engineer by training.  He married Christine, the daughter of Harry Williamson the founder of Wyevale Nurseries, and joined the business in 1973 when, with his wife, they opened the first garden centre restaurant, in Hereford.

He soon became responsible for several individual garden centres and started two decades of acquisitions.  He was appointed Chief Executive in June 1986 and became Chairman in November 1997.

Initially he bought independent garden centres until, in 1987, Wyevale plc was floated on the stock market with 14 garden centres.  A period of rapid growth followed with the acquisition of rival groups. 

Cramphorn, which had 14 garden centres, was bought in 1991, This was followed by Kennedys’ 13 garden centres in 1998 and a hostile takeover of Country Gardens in 2000, which added 39 garden centres to the group.

He was the first to pay over £1m for a garden centre when he bought Galton in Dorset. 

In 2000 he told the Independent, “Retail is detail. I came into the business in 1972, opening the first garden centre restaurant with my wife, the boss's daughter. We realised how important it was to look after the people who had travelled miles to reach us…  I am not a horticulturalist, but gardening has become my passion.”

There will be a celebration of Brian’s life at 12.30 noon on Friday 18th November at St Lawrence’s Church, Ludlow.  Everyone is very welcome.

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